Arsenal play their first competitive match of the season, the Community Shield against Manchester City, on Sunday, yet there are still three young hopefuls training with the senior squad as the new campaign draws ever nearer.
Whilst the majority of the young professionals were back in the U21 set-up for the 6-4 victory over Forest Green Rovers yesterday, Damian Martinez, Ignasi Miquel and Hector Bellerin continued to train with Arsene Wenger’s squad at London Colney.
All three players possess a genuine chance of officially being promoted this Summer and the trio could all make the bench for the game at Wembley.
Martinez, having impressed in pre-season, looks set to be named as the club’s third-choice goalkeeper for the new campaign. He may even start the season as temporary back-up to Wojciech Szczesny if new signing David Ospina doesn’t recover from injury in time.
Miquel provides cover at centre-back, a position in which the first-team are considerably light at present. Per Mertesacker is not yet back from holiday and Thomas Vermaelen looks likely to leave the club, with Laurent Koscielny and Calum Chambers both likely to start in the heart of the defence against City.
Nacho Monreal is another, albeit very unconvincing, option in that position, but Miquel will be hopeful that his time to impress has finally arrived.
Bellerin’s future was cast into some doubt following the acquisition of Chambers, but, with the former Southampton player being utilised at centre-back for now, the path is clear for Bellerin to be the primary back-up to Mathieu Debuchy at right-back.
All three players are likely to partake in tomorrow’s open training session at Emirates Stadium. If Martinez and Miquel, as seems likely, remain at the club, then they would both have to take up a place in the club’s 25-man Premier League squad for the new season. No such restrictions apply to Bellerin.